TORONTO, Ont. — The pressure was on York9 FC and manager Jim Brennan to win at all costs against a team that has taken all three points in every Canadian Premier League meeting between the two: Cavalry FC.
The stakes were higher in this match. A win would give York9 a chance to keep fighting for a spot in the CPL Finals. Anything else would allow Cavalry manager Tommy Wheeldon, whose side has already clinched a spot in the two-legged final, to start game planning for Forge FC early.
In the first half, both teams had equal opportunities to score with seven shots each, combining for only five on target.
Tied 0-0 and needing a goal, York9 needed something to happen, and it did. What started out as a match with little drama suddenly turned into madness, as studs began to fly along with bookings. York winger Ryan Telfer was the first to get booked in the half, fallowed by Cavalry’s Mauro Eustaquio, but that didn’t stop either team from backing down from dangerous play — and it cost them.
After Cavalry fullback Nathan Mavila was booked for a challenge on Telfer, moments later, teammate Jose Escalante was sent off with a straight red. Referee Filip Dujic was not going to keep the cards in his pocket any longer, as seven minutes later Mavila was also sent off with a second yellow leaving Cavalry were down to nine men.
EXTENDED HIGHLIGHTS | @York9FC vs @CPLCavalryFC— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) September 29, 2019
Turbulent scenes at York Lions Stadium tonight, following a controversial draw settled after the supposed final minute of extra time! #CanPLxOneSoccer | #CanPL pic.twitter.com/DEX4CZTWwv
Despite all that, Nico Pasquotti miraculously came up with a stunner of a goal to put Cavalry up 1-0 at York Lions Stadium in the 82nd minute, silencing the green-and-grey crowd.
However, five additional minutes saw three points turn into one for Cavalry, as York9’s Wataru Murofushi found the back of the net off a Rodrigo Gattas cross in the 96th minute of injury time, putting the lid on a chaotic contest with the final score finishing 1-1.
“[Wataru] is a clever player [...]” said Brennan after the match. “If you watch him closely, he always finds little spaces. He deserved that [goal].”
The two goals scored were a microcosm of the match. The cards seemed to keep on coming in a game that was far out of hand, as a total of eight cards were handed out by final whistle. York9 winger Telfer shared his thoughts on how the game was being played
“I don’t mind that hard type of play,” said Telfer after the match, “but there’s a point where you cross the line, and you put a players health at risk.”
Wheeldon, the Cavalry FC manager, was also not amused.
“Two-man down, against a three man advantage wasn’t it?” said Wheeldon, alluding to the questionable officiating. “What was it? Five minutes of injury time and they score in the 96th? That’s interesting.”
The draw ends York’s hopes at a CPL Finals berth as Cavalry and Forge have clinched their tickets to the inaugural dance. Earlier in the day, Forge dominated to win 3-0 over Pacific FC moving them to the top of the table, making only Cavalry the only team able to catch them.
Moving forward, Brennan and his York9 FC team will come to play the same way they always have.
“We don’t want to shy away from who we are as a team,” said Brennan. “This season is all about building. It’s about finding the right group of players that can play our football”